Friday, October 24, 2014

HigherEdJobs: How Segregation Contributes to Opportunity Hoarding in Access to Higher Education

Sheryll Cashin is Professor of Law at Georgetown University and Scholar-in-Residence at HigherEdJobs. She writes about race relations, government and inequality in America. Over the next three months, she will focus discussions on placed-based affirmative action and higher education, segregation and opportunity hoarding in higher education as well as how to create and promote multicultural coalitions for fairness and investment in K-16 education. The excerpt below is from her seminal book, Place Not Race: A New Vision of Opportunity in America, in which she argues that race-based and/or class-based affirmative action as currently practiced does little to help students in disadvantaged communities. She offers a new framework for true inclusion that focuses on place-based affirmative action, where colleges should admit students based on the average income level of the community they reside -- giving more consideration to students from low-income neighborhoods and school districts.

...only 42 percent of all Americans now live in a middle-class neighborhood, down from 65 percent in 1970. Because of the increasing separation of the affluent and the highly educated from everyone else, place, where one lives, often determines who has access to high-quality K-12 education and, in turn, selective higher education. Today there are only 17 counties in the United States in which more than half the population are college educated -- counties that selective college recruiters flock to, including Marin County north of San Francisco; Orange County in North Carolina's research triangle; Boulder County, Colorado; and affluent suburbs bordering Washington D.C. and New York City. In the vast majority of U.S. counties, however, college graduates are a small minority. College graduates used to be more evenly distributed, but segregation between them and high school graduates has nearly tripled since 1940.

Highly educated people are drawn to metro centers where other people like themselves live, and within the metropolis they gravitate to neighborhoods of their own kind. This is a phenomenon that transcends race. College graduates living in America's most highly educated metro areas are more residentially isolated than African Americans.

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